E‑Gov performance measures

OMB released performance metrics for all of the e‑gov initiatives last month, including Grants.gov. Accurate measurement of program performance has been a missing component of government IT for many years. In judging the Excellence.Gov Awards, a common criticism is that nominations fail to demonstrate measurable success. Without such measures, it’s impossible for citizens and other stakeholders to determine whether any given program deserves continued investment. So congratulations to OMB for getting this ball rolling! 

That said, GovExec has a different take on the figures: 

A high percentage of federal agencies are participating in the Bush administration’s e‑government initiatives, but use and adoption rates are lagging. 

My hope is that everyone realizes that these metrics are meant to guide investment and strategy decisions. Just because a program gets a bad score on one measurement criteria doesn’t mean it should be scrapped. The numbers have to be viewed and interpreted together. For example, Grants.gov received a 56 (out of 100) for customer satisfaction, which is not-so-good, but they have also achieved broad adoption. The former may well be a consequence of the latter, so the question for Grants.gov should be how to utilize their broad user population to ensure increased satisfaction. 

It’d be easy to lambast the e‑gov programs, and some definitely deserve criticism. But I would hope that these metrics will be used sensibly to improve services to citizens and create efficiencies in government, and not employed as fuel for ulterior motives.